BBQ Tour Stop #1 - Las VegasApril 13, 2012
ACM BBQ Throwdown
Las, Vegas, NV
The first stop on the 2012 Great American BBQ Tour was the ACM BBQ Throwdown in Las Vegas. Before Christine and I headed out west though, we met with our national partners in Nashville to run through a dress rehearsal.
It’s great to have Weber Sauces and Seasonings along with the tour again this year. Weber has been with the Great American BBQ Tour since the beginning. This year we are promoting their new "Just Add Juice" product, which is a dry marinade that is mixed with different juices based upon meat choices. There are six different Just Add Juice flavors and we are highlighting the Caribbean Jerk seasoning mixed with orange juice and pork loin. Weber Sauces and Seasonings will also be introducing a new line of BBQ Sauces. That means pulled pork loin will also be on our sampling menu! Reser's Fine Foods is on the BBQ Tour again this year and we will have Reser's Original Potato Salad to pass out at each tour stop along with us also able to witness their “America’s Best Potato Salad Challenge” at various KCBS tour stops this year. Smithfield is partnering with the Great American BBQ Tour and supplying us with pork loin to grill and smoke on the road! Additionally, we’re excited to have Castle Wood Reserve meats and cheeses on tour this year. We have a fantastic grilled turkey pastrami sandwich with Swiss cheese that we will sample during our demonstrations. Oh and speaking of grills, this year we have the ultimate cooking experience in the Big Green Egg along on tour. We will carry two large eggs around on stage and are excited to cook on these premium ceramic cookers! Our accessory sponsor this year is ThermoWorks, which allows us to promote the Thermapen that most BBQ teams (including ourselves) have in their BBQ toolbox and their dual-channel type K thermocouple to monitor both the grate and meat temperature.
Las Vegas is a three-day drive for us (DOT regulations and all) and it was great to get back into "BBQ Tour" mode. Our first day took us through Oklahoma and into Amarillo. The weather cooperated for us and made for a beautiful driving day. On the road to Flagstaff for our second nights stay, Christine and I crossed our fingers and held our breath going past Santa Rosa, NM. That’s where we had our truck tire blowout about this time last year. The new trailer rolled right along without issue as we traveled along I-40. We were a bit worried because a week earlier, Flagstaff had quite a bit of snow and there was still snow in the shady areas but none on the road thank goodness. We rolled into Las Vegas earlier than we expected due to the time changes and did a retail stop at one of the local Sam's Clubs to great crowds of BBQ enthusiasts!
We loaded the tour trailer into the parking lot of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino and got ready for 100+ teams to start setting up their cook sites. Since we were placed towards the front of the event, closer to the stage and vendors, teams loaded in near us early. Sin City Smokers, Smokin' Yankees, Smokey's BBQ, Three Brothers Different Mothers, Lotta Bull, Poppa Naps were close-by neighbors and were a diverse representation from around the country.
Between our BBQ Tour trailer and the main stage, was the exhibition site where Dr. BBQ, Ray Lampe, organized celebrity cook-offs on both Friday and Saturday. Friday's event included chefs from the MGM resorts while Saturday's grilling event paired BBQ pitmasters with country music stars. Inside the ACM expo were dozens of vendors displaying everything that a country music fan would enjoy from trucks to western wear, jewelry and interactive displays.
But the main reason we were all there was for the ACM BBQ Throwdown! At the end of the day, 111 teams competed for $50,000 in prize money. That amount of money brings people from all over the country, and introduces new people to KCBS and our wonderful world of BBQ that we all know and love. Christine even signed up three new members over the weekend!
At the end of the day, Meat@Slims won the Rib category, Pork Barrel BBQ came all the way from Washington DC to win the Pork category, Dances with Smoke Barbeque took home the Brisket category. Then overall, Lucky's Q scored a 673.1426 to win Reserve Grand and Harry Soo with Slap Yo' Daddy won the Chicken category, took third place with his brisket and won Grand Champion with a 673.1430 score. That’s FOUR ten-thousandths of a point!
On Sunday afternoon, after the crowds left and everything got packed away, Christine and I made time to hit the ACM Fan Jam hosted by the Zac Brown Band at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center where they were taping the American Country Music awards. it was a great ending to a fantastic weekend and a great start for the 2012 Great American BBQ Tour!
The 2012 Great American BBQ Tour will be travelling across the country to 23 fantastic BBQ festivals and events. Follow Mike Peters as he blogs along the way. Also be sure to 'Like' the Great American BBQ Tour Facebook page to have a chance to win great prizes including a Small Green Egg and EGGcessories!